Friday, May 15, 2020

Nearly Complete Thoughts on 10x cost magic and 10x the loot

I've been given serious thought to how I'd implement the "10x as much treasure but magic is 10x as expensive" approach to loot.

Fundamentally solved

- All loot amounts are 10x as high as written in pre-written adventures.

- All loot on treasure generation tables is 10x as high. Values of items are not 10x as high - if you want 10x the value, put 10x the stuff!

- Permanent magic items, items that convey spells (scrolls), and potions cost, and are worth, 10x listed or $200/point of energy.

- Starting Wealth is unchanged.

Sticking Points

The real questions on "x10 cost for magic" are:

- Magic-like concoctions. Is Alchemist's Fire $100 or $1,000? How about clearly magical poisons, etc.?

- Paut. Does Paut remain $135, as a "mundane" item, or $1,350, as a "magical" item? My lean is toward "magical." It's a bottle of magical energy replacement. Healing potions - also clearly magical - would cost $1,200 for a Minor Healing Potion.

- Power Items. Recharging would need to cost $50/point, not $5/point. But would Power Items use the scale listed when access to high-value mundane items is 10x higher? A $1,000 item is 8 FP, but a $10,000 item is 25 FP (7 and 20 if you also use the numbers as minimums.) PCs would have access to power items frequently 3-5x as large. That might be an acceptable increase in power since warrior-types will have much more ready access to mundane arms of quality.

- Spells in town. Does it cost $150,000 for Resurrection and $10,000 for Remove Curse? If not, healing in town is trivial. If it does, it's no easier than before.

My lean on these are:

-No, 10x cost is for magical items.

- Paut is 10x cost. Players of wizards will squawk at this, hard. Maybe enough to scuttle the entire idea. Logically, saying you get $10,000 in loot instead of $1,000 on a given delve and spent $2,700 replacing 2 Paut instead of $270 is still a net benefit - you end up with $7,300 to spend on mundane costs. But sticker shock at higher Paut prices will probably upset players badly. It's one thing is Paut costs less than upkeep; it's another if it costs more than suits of armor.

- Power items use the stricter table reading - $50 and up is 1 FP, not $50 and below. Cost to charge is 10x. The benefit to mages of larger power items means casters will generally be able to get off larger spells, or more lesser ones, even if they're not willing to pay for "more expensive" Paut.

- Spells cast in town are also 10x cost. That's why Resurrection isn't common, it's $500 per energy point and thus $150,000 . . . 150 times average wealth.

Optional:

- Coins are heavier - 50/pound like in DF/DFRPG not 250/pound like in DF Felltower - and are still on the silver standard ($0.10 copper, $1 silver, $20 gold). Jewelry prices adjust accordingly with silver being $50/pound and gold $1,000/pound instead of DF8's $1,000/pound and $20,000/pound or the middle ground of my current game's $250 and $5,000 to the pound.

This has the upside of making carrying coinage a logistical issue. It has the downside of making weaponry very valuable loot - two pounds of silver coins is $100 but a two pound shortsword costs $400 and sells for $160 with average wealth, making it worth $80/pound. "Leave the cash, take the mundane weaponry" has its charms but it's also kind of out-of-genre.


A bit of an alternate approach is the "A lot of money back then" approach. Cut all mundane prices by 10. You start with $100, Broadswords cost $50, a staff is $1, Upkeep is $15 . . . both otherwise everything is the same. It's not nearly as fun as giant piles of loot, though.


Any other edge cases (or critical cases) that I haven't noticed?


[Addition 5/16/2020]

- One of my players asked about Bottomless items - purses, backpacks, etc. given that coinage drops in effective value. Price is 10x, as any other magic item. Capacity is unchanged. They're "purses" but they'd get used for equipment far more often than for cash. If we changed coins from 250/pound to 50/pound that would make them less useful per-pound of capacity for carrying coinage, but a) more useful because of more weight of coin and b) more valuable for carrying non-coin items that have a better cost-per-pound.

- I'd also drop to the DFRPG standard of $100 per potion in town - but it would be $1,000 per. Specific potion type doesn't matter - the alchemists don't trust you and they're guild workers and have set prices.

- Another sticking point - if you wanted to do this after play began, how would you do so? What happens to the value of items held, cash on hand, etc.? Simple answer is 10x as much, so as not to hurt those that saved vs. those that spent on now-10x as expensive items. But someone will inevitably lose out based on purchases and savings approaches.

6 comments:

  1. Do magical hirelings charge more for their services?

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    1. No. Presumably getting to be an in-town scroll-writer and potion-maker is like getting a job as an enchanter - it's highly-skilled labor with difficult requirements to do it.

      Either that or you could say, yes, sure, it's 10x as costly to hire a spellcasting hireling.

      I'm not sure which is better. It breaks nothing to have people have henchmen apprentices and acolytes, or hire elves. They certainly can't be showing up with 125 base points in a 250-point campaign and claim 10 shares, so I'd lean towards the first answer.

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    2. I was thinking of npcs hired for wages, rather than shares. Paying $400 to hire an apprentice for a week and then paying more than three times as much to reimburse him for the Paut he used doesn't make a lot of economic sense. Come to think of it, it does make a lot of sense for the employer -- it's actually cheaper to hire day laborers as FP batteries with Steal Energy than to pay for Paut.

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    3. I figure it doesn't make much sense to pay an apprentice $4K per week, either.

      The idea of bringing along laborers as "mana batteries" that you can Steal Energy from is fine . . . but you'll have to make rolls to hire them, pay to keep them, protect them, and then make sure they survive and prosper so you can do it again. You'll need a few of them on a delve, too, which only expands your logistical footprint as a party. Or you can just plunk down 1350 and have 4 FP in a convenient bottle-sized amount.

      That seems like a strong argument in favor, to my way of thinking!

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  2. I think you nailed it on the head with "logistical issue".

    Not that this might not be the intended behavior... but I remember playing Diablo 2, I got to the point where even I refused to lug everything back for sale, I began to 'weight' loot based on it's "space versus value" and simply refused to pick anything up that fell below a certain value threshold (unless I was right near the camp and could easily fit it in the inventory). In fact on all the characters I played through that game I kept four scroll books on me, 2 to use from, 2 to sell. A simple 2x1 scroll tome was more valuable than most other loot because it could hold 20 scrolls and despite a scroll's low value, 20 of them added up to being near the highest value per slot item you could carry (and despite Deckard Cain offering up free Identifies, it was more "time value" to me to Identify in the field and just avoid picking up trash magics).

    Sorry about the Diablo 2 segue, but my point being, your PCs will begin to dearly love finding small useless magic items, because they will be low-weight, high-value in comparison to those Fine Epic Dwarven Orichalcum Plate suits (though, yeah, that's a keeper)...

    So basically expect someone to start loading up on the 'identify' skills, so they can evaluate loot well enough to know what is worth lugging back and what isn't (though I'd be surprised if you didn't already have someone doing that).

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    Replies
    1. I'm curious what the effect would be. The players have started to feel like selling magic items is a false economy - you get a nice bump of money, convert that into potions (basically), and then get a short-term power bump instead of long-term utility. They're keeping more of the items they find now, and I generally don't salt around a lot of small-but-useless magic items in any case. Or at least, in the long run I feel like their value starts to become apparent. My players mostly got a chuckle out of magical brass knuckles way back in the day . . . but I've got 2-3 characters right now who'd love a pair. Several players have openly regretted selling The Razor (in DFT3), which was sold because, who uses a shortsword?

      I expect you'd get some situations where weight of loot causes you to need to choose what you take - and I'm all for that! Especially with 50/coins to the pound and cheap gold ($1K/pound), and 10x loot thresholds, you need to have a good eye to maximize your take.

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